Travel Destinations / Brazil
Brazil is located in the east coast of the South America, by Atlantic Ocean. With its area of 8,511,965 km2, constitutes one of biggest countries of the world in territorial extension. It possesss vast natural water holds; the biggest forest of the land; and flora, fauna, air, land, minerals and waters of inestimable value for the planet. It possesss around 169 million inhabitants, distributed in 26 States and a Federal District, where it is locates Brasilia capital.
It is the largest nation in Latin America, comprises slightly under half the land mass of the South American continent and shares a border with every South American country except Chile and Ecuador. It is the size of the continental United States excluding Alaska. Brazil’s physical environment and climate vary greatly from the tropical North to the temperate South. The landscape is dominated by a central highland region known as the Planalto Central (Brazilian Highlands, or Plateau of Brazil) and by the vast Amazon Basin which occupies overone-third of the country.The central plateau juts into theseaina few areas along Brazil’s 4,500-mile-long, (7,240-kilometer-long) coast, but it more often runs parallel to the ocean, creating a fertile, lowland area.
Brazil is a land rich in natural resources, principally iron ore, bauxite, manganese, nickel, uranium, gold, gemstones, oil, and timber. The physical environment in each region determined the types of crops grown or the resources extracted and this, in turn, influenced the populations that settled there and the social and economic systems that developed. Brazil’s economic history, in fact, has been marked by a succession of cycles, each one based on the exploitation of a single export commodity: timber (brazilwood) in the first years of colonization; sugarcane in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries; precious metals (gold) and gems (diamonds) in the eighteenth century; and finally, coffee in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
Demographics and Stats
The culture of Brazil presents a very diverse nature reflecting an ethnic and cultural mixing occurred in the colonial period involving mostly Native Americans, Portuguese and Africans. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries Italian, German, Spanish, Arab and Japanese immigrants settled in Brazil and played an important role in its culture, creating a multicultural and multiethnic society.
Official Language: Portuguese is the official language. Spanish, English, and French are also spoken.
Major Religions: Roman Catholic 80%. Protestant 15% . 5 % consists of Buddhism, Judaism, Shinto, Islam, Candomble, Macumba, and a variety of offshoots of Christianity.
From Trinidad in Bolivia you can reach Brazil by a boat trip of about five days down the Río Mamoré to Guayaramerín, opposite the Brazilian town of Guajará-Mirim. ParaguayThe passenger-boat service on the Rio Paraguai between Corumbá (Mato Grosso do Sul) and Asunción (Paraguay) has been discontinued. You might be able to travel this route using a sequence of cargo and/or naval boats, but it would take time and luck.
Fast passenger boats make the 400km trip (US$50 to US$80, eight to 10 hours) along the Rio Amazonas between Iquitos (Peru) and Tabatinga (Brazil). From Tabatinga you can continue 3000km down the river to its mouth.
International buses travel between Brazil and Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay, along decent roads. Prices of bus tickets between countries are substantially more than you’d pay if you took a bus to the border, crossed on foot and caught another on the other side, but you’ll lose a lot of time that way. If arriving by bus, make sure your papers are in order.
Car & motorcycle
At the border you will be asked to sign a bond called a termo de responsabilidade, which lists the owner’s identification details and home address, destination, and description of the vehicle (make, model, year, serial number, color and tag number). You will also be asked to pay a bank guarantee (the amount to be determined by customs) and sign a statement agreeing that if you stay for more than 90 days, you will contact customs in the area where the entry was registered to apply for an extension for the permit. This must be presented to customs at the time of departure. If your vehicle overstays its permitted time in Brazil, it is liable to be seized and the bank guarantee forfeited. It’s illegal to sell the vehicle in Brazil.
Airports & airlines
The most popular international gateways are Aeroporto Galeão (GIG) in Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo’s Aeroporto Guarulhos (GRU). From both, connecting flights to airports throughout the country leave regularly. Salvador (SSA) and Recife (REC) receive a few direct scheduled flights from Europe.
Brazil’s currency is the real (hay-ow; often written R$); the plural is reais (hay-ice). One real is made up of 100 centavos. The real was introduced on a one-for-one parity with the US dollar in 1994 but after 13 years of modest fluctuations reached a value of around US$0.50 by 2007.Banknotes are easy to distinguish from each other as they come in different colors with a different animal featured on each. There’s a green one-real note (hummingbird), a blue two (hawksbill turtle), a violet five (egret), a scarlet 10 (macaw), a yellow twenty (lion-faced monkey), a golden-brown 50 (jaguar) and a blue 100 (grouper fish).
ATMs are the easiest way of getting cash in big cities and are common. In many smaller towns, ATMs exist but rarely work for non-Brazilian cards. Make sure you have a four-digit PIN (longer PINs may not work). In general HSBC, Citibank, Banco do Brasil and Bradesco are the best ATMs to try. Look for the stickers on the machines that say Cirrus, Visa, or whatever system your card uses – though this may not mean the machine will necessarily work. Do take care when using ATMs; there have been a number of scams, where criminals have managed to hack into bank accounts of ATM users and subsequently drain them. Even if you are relying mainly on credit or debit cards as your source of funds, it’s not a bad idea to take some cash and traveler’s checks in reserve. You can change these in banks or in casas de câmbio (exchange offices). Banks have slower, more bureaucratic procedures but on the whole give better exchange rates (an exception being Banco do Brasil which charges R$40 commission for every traveler’s check transaction). You’ll usually get a 1% or 2% better exchange rate for cash than for traveler’s checks. Checks, of course, have the advantage of being replaceable if lost or stolen.
You can use credit cards for many purchases and to make cash withdrawals from ATMs and banks. Visa is the most widely accepted card, followed by MasterCard. Amex and Diners Club cards are also useful. Visa cash advances are widely available, even in small towns with no other currency-exchange facilities; you’ll need your passport, and the process can be time consuming, especially at the ubiquitous but bureaucratic Banco do Brasil. In Brazilian banks generally, it’s preferable to deal with machines than to try to make contact with human beings. Credit-card fraud is extremely common in Brazil. Keep your card in sight at all times, especially in restaurants.
There is no reciprocal health agreement with the UK or USA. Full insurance is strongly recommended as medical costs are high. The standard of medical care is generally very good in major towns and cities. English-speaking medical staff are found mainly in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. The main hospital in São Paulo is the Hospital das Clínicas, while in Rio the Hospital Copa D’or and the Hospital Samaritano are both well trusted.
Food and drink:
Water should not be drunk unless boiled or sterilised first. Even filtered water in more remote areas should be avoided and bottled water should be drunk instead. Pasteurised milk and cheese is available in towns and is generally considered safe to consume. Milk outside of urban areas is unpasteurised and should be boiled; travellers should also be wary of products that could have been made with unpasteurised milk, such as ice cream. Only eat well-cooked meat and fish. Vegetables should be cooked and fruit peeled.
A polio vaccination certificate is required for children aged between three months and seven years old. Bilharzia (schistosomiasis) is present. Other infectious diseases prevalent in Brazil include trypanosomiasis (Chagas disease) and mucocutaneous leishmaniasis (on the increase). Dengue fever is on the increase, especially after rain in densely populated areas. There are epidemics of meningococcal meningitis in and around the Rio area. Rabies is present; if you are bitten, seek medical advice without delay.
Brazil’s high season runs from December to March. This is when the country fills with both foreign visitors and vacationing Brazilian families (school holidays run from mid-December to Carnaval, usually in February). Prices rise during this time and you’ll face more crowds, though this is also the most festive time in Brazil. Brazil’s low season runs from May to September. With the exception of July, which is also a school-holiday month, this is the cheapest and least-crowded time to visit the country – though it can be utterly vacant in some resort areas and cold in the south.
During the summer, which runs from December to February (school holidays coinciding), Rio and the Northeast have temperatures in the high 30s. The rest of the year temperatures are generally in the mid-20s to low 30s. The south has wider temperature variations, ranging from 15°C in the winter (June through August) to 35°C in the summer.